City council has given the Nelson Civic Theatre Society four more months to work on the details of proposal.
An in-camera motion which was released to the public at Monday’s council meeting read the society has been given four months to conduct feasibility work and further business planning, raise initial funds, and consult with the broader community.
“We’re excited that we have something to move forward with,” society member Anne DeGrace told the Star, even though she had not yet heard from the City about the motion.
The proposal presented to council by the theatre society said they would conduct a feasibility study upon acceptance.
“We recognize that in that incredibly short time frame, with so many unknowns about the building and so much to research, in that short time frame we weren’t going to be as diligent and as thorough as we would have wished,” she said.
The group is hoping they will be able to complete the study in less than four months with the goal to have a theatre in Nelson sooner rather than later.
“We are feeling more optimistic after seeing the motion,” she said. “We were optimistic when we put in the proposal, but we are more optimistic now having something concrete to work with. As a group, that is pretty validating for the hard work we have put in so far. We are excited. As with anything this answer raises more questions: How does the city want to move forward precisely? That is something we need to find out and we are looking forward to that conversation.”
Council has also received a proposal by the Downtown Athletic Club, which DeGrace thinks may have triggered the request for proposal process.
“We’re two groups that have a different vision for the space, but we both want what’s best for our community. There is not animosity there, there is just another vision,” she said. “We simply responded to that. Our proposal was what we came up with and it was up to the city to decide. I really hope that the squash and climbing folks will find a home because they are part of our community too.”
Pat Hodgson who is part of the Downtown Athletic Club and a member of the squash club said they need to consider other options.
“When we entered into this whole process to try and use the Civic Theatre, we weren’t so naïve to think that there wouldn’t be some heavy element of political involvement in the decision making process,” he said. “I think that we had kind of hoped that that political involvement had taken place when the request for proposal process had been extended by a month. What we were hoping for at the close of the request for proposal process was a decision from council and that didn’t happen.”
The Athletic Club’s plans for the Civic Theatre space includes squash courts, a climbing gym and the possibility for facilities like a basketball court.
“We are certainly disappointed with the route that council decided to go, but we’re not necessarily surprised by it,” said Hodgson. “What we had really hoped for was that this process would have taken the two proposals that were put forth and would be decided on the merits of both.”
Like DeGrace, Hodgson feels the feasibility study could be done in less than four months.
“We kind of figured that 30 days or 60 days would have been the number that they would have used and we feel that the four month extension is excessive for what they are trying to accomplish,” he said. “My understanding of the extension is to allow them to sign up memberships and get some money from membership fees and to come up with a business plan. We don’t think it should take four months to do that. If the residents of the Nelson area are as committed with their wallets to the theatre as they are with their hearts, they should be able to get those memberships in a much shorter period of time than four months.”
The Nelson Civic Theatre Society has until October 15 to complete their feasibility study, further business planning, raise initial funds and consult with the broader community.